Many Ghanaians have decried the obscene form of nepotism and cronyism that have characterised the Akufo Addo government. Until now however, it had been believed that this was limited to the packing of government and state agencies with an inordinate number of relatives, friends and business associates of the President.That view underestimated the extent of the state capture that is currently bedevilling Ghana.
Information reaching the desk of the Ghana Palaver from unimpeachable sources, indicate that controversial Finance Minister and cousin of President Akufo Addo, Ken Ofori Atta, has packaged a juicy contract and given it to a law firm founded by his equally controversial nephew, Asare Otchere Darko, popularly called Gabby.
Gabby’s little-known Law firm, Africa Legal Associates, is said to have been contracted by the Finance Minister to review all agreements and contracts entered into by the Finance Ministry over the last 15 years.Our sources say the contract estimated at US$ 20 million has the strange feature of being open-ended with no discernible time limits.
Further investigations show that owing to an obvious lack of capacity, Gabby Asare Otchere Darko has recruited, US Law firm, White and Case to undertake the exercise. Another worrying aspect of this contract is the lack of clarity on the procurement process used to select Africa Legal Associates, given that they were only recently established.
Sources say the contract which is being spoken of in hushed tones at the Ministry, is most likely to have been awarded on sole-sourcing basis which would run contrary to the campaign rhetoric of President Akufo Addo and the establishment of a largely superfluous portfolio of Minister of State in charge of procurement.
They posit that Gabby’s family ties to the scandal-prone Ken Ofori Atta and his overbearing influence on his uncle, Akufo Addo, may have influenced his firm’s selection due to its clear lack of capacity and measurable expertise in the field.
Concerns have also been raised about the nebulous Terms of Reference (TOR) for the project apart from the vague task of reviewing agreements over the last fifteen years.
Africa Legal Associates’ website ,which has been operational for only a year, lists Gabby Otchere Darko as Senior Partner, with his wife, Nana Adjoa Hackman, who also sits on the GNPC Board, as Managing Partner.
Joseph Akyeampong and Mansa Williams are described as Associate Lawyers. Their office address is given as Number 5 Olooti Lane, Labone Accra, behind the Coffee Shop.
The website lists Corporate Services, Debt Recovery, Oil and Gas, Banking and Finance, Media and Strategic Communication, Government Relations among others as some of the services rendered by the shadowy entity.
White and Case on the other hand is described as an International Law Firm, that serves companies, governments and financial institutions. It is a New York based firm founded on 1st May, 1901 by J. Dupprat White and George B. Case. They are said to be operational in forty countries and their London Office address is given as 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1DW, United Kingdom.
Well-placed sources with knowledge of the transaction say, the review of the agreements for which the contract was given, is intended to nit-pick and find fault with agreements entered into by the Ministry during the eight year tenure of the NDC. They explain that the extension of the review period to cover the seven years preceding that period is only a ruse designed to give the political exercise a semblance of objectivity and balance.
Others also argue that the inclusion of Kufour-era contracts is intended to find damaging evidence which can be used to undermine the Presidential bids of some Kufour protégés in order not to disrupt well laid out plans to crown Ken Ofori Atta heir apparent to Akufo Addo who has publicly hinted of his non-availability for the NPP ticket in 2020.
The award of the estimated GHc 100 million equivalent contract to Gabby will re-ignite public discontent which has been brewing ever since the nepotistic trend of appointing close family relations, friends and business associates to key government positions began.
The anger will also be felt within the ranks of the New Patriotic Party, where Gabby is reviled for his brashness and close control of Akufo Addo. The Ashanti faction within the party sees the total dominance of the smaller Akyem block in the Akufo Addo Administration as an existential threat and has vowed to fight back.
Already, maverick NPP MP Kennedy Agyepong, whose wife was only last week appointed Chairperson of the Shippers Council Board, has accused Gabby Otchere Darko and another cousin of Akufo Addo, Duke Ofori Atta, of hijacking the President and denying key party members access to him.
Last week, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta came under fire for appointing his sister-in-law, Eno Ofori Atta to the Deputy MD position at SIC Financial Services. He has received widespread criticism for naming Data Bank Vice President, Daniel Obgarmey Tetteh,as Director- General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a body which has been petitioned to investigate the conduct of Ofori Atta in the US$ 2.25 billion bond scandal.
Some financial experts have described Ogbarmey Tetteh’s appointment as unconstitutional and called for its reversal. Others have cited the obvious conflict of interest situation arising out of the Minister’s long-standing relationship with the new SEC Director-General at Data Bank, which Ofori Atta founded with two others in the early nineties, as grounds for a revocation of the appointment.
These and other instances of the Finance Minister’s penchant for cronyism and nepotism have become the subject of a petition sent to the IMF by anti-corruption group Progressive Alliance Media Communicators.
Your authoritative Ghana Palaver is conducting further investigations into the matter and would publish more details in subsequent editions.